delight in being naughty


New Member
Hi, I'm new

I am facing issues with my newly turned four year old. We have some of the behaviors described in previous posts (defiance being one of them) but the one I want people's opinion on is the sheer delight my son gets from doing something naughty.

For example, there is a ladder in the garage. He knows he is not supposed to climb it. He does everything he can to sneak away, and into the garage, (including figuring out how to disable the motion sensor alarms my husband installed - he is very bright) and climb on it. When he is discovered, he lights up with glee, and seems almost to relish whatever consequence he is dealt out (I can list many we have tried) and can't wait for another opportunity to do it again. Only until he has worn me to a screaming frazzle will he stop, but only until the next day. Multiple this by about six other "no-no's" (ie climbing the cabinets, sneaking over to the neighbor's house) about fifty times a day, and this is my life. He just has no shame. I am cutting down on some of this behavior by providing him with a regimented schedule - "I was going to be a good boy, but I got bored" he tells me - but unless he is occupied and strictly supervised, it is an issue. I can't even let him go to the potty by himself, because he loves seeing how much toilet paper he can put in the potty.

He also loves playing imaginary games with lots of controversy, like "police man catches the bad guy, who then escapes from jail", etc.

Any thoughts, any help? Please?

me: late 30's RN
husband early 40's engineer
one well behaved little girl, age 9
one undiagnosed little imp, age 4


New Member
p.s. one success! He also loved spitting, especially at his sister, because of the great reaction he got. I was able to get him to stop by keeping some lemon juice and a little needleless syringe with me and squirting some lemon juice in his mouth whenever he spit at people.

mom-1 imp-1234


Mom? What's a difficult child?
I think I saw in one of your other post that someone suggested "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. I would get that book.
It is very difficult to start this process, I would push for a diagnosis... start looking into a Psychiatrist and a nuero-psychiatric evaluation. I would ask you pediatrician for recomendations and who to go to in your area, it would be nice if there was a teaching hospital or children's clinic in your area.
The sooner you have a correct diagnosis and can start treatment and get help for your child the better your whole family will start feeling.

My kids were/are the same way.
My 5yo is doing better now with medications. My 2yo is horrible. We have to have lots of talks and small "time outs" she will sit on a chair after hitting for a minute or two and then we talk about it... We talk about having soft hands, consenquences, how she hurts Mommy or her sister, how she can hit a pillow or use her words... If she doesn't use angry words or scream she is such a nice girl and that is when she gets nice things... she could care less half the time she is very oppositional!!! She is mean and angry... but then she will say I want the angries to go away, I am sending them away... It breaks my heart because I think they really do want to be good, and like my 5yo she used to be so violent and now that she is medicated she is really not violent at all. She always wanted to be good, but she couldn't.
Good Luck We are still trying to figure it out!!!


Well-Known Member
Hmmmmmmmmm. OK, I have a few questions. Does he have any sort of delays and is he fascinated with objects, such as switching lights on and off? Does he play appropriately with toys? Other kids? Is he sensitive to sounds/light/anything? I'm trying to figure out why he can't resist the impulse to "see what happens." I'm not convinced he is doing this to make your life miserable. Do you have any mood disorders or substance abuse on the family tree? Have you taken him for a multi disciplinary evaluation? Your son could have one of many disorders, and he may be doing a thing for reasons other than to get you mad, although I'm sure it seems like that right now.


New Member
He does seem to do reasonably well with other kids, although being at home with nanny (2-3 days/wk), he doesn't have tons of chances for interaction - usually kids in neighborhood for about 45 min a day, and an occasional playdate with one of his two playfriends, which usually go OK, but sometimes he needs lots of direction. We are going to try pre-school in the fall, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I think he'll do OK IF it is not for very many hours and not every day. He does torment his sister endlessly, however. I would go as far to say he can be deliberately mean to her. I work hard for the two of them to have positive interactions.

Toys -- now there is his strong suit, if he ever had one. This is how we know he is not ADHD. He plays extremely well and appropriately with toys, sometimes for long periods of time.

He doesn't have any obvious delays. He hit all of his physical developmental milestones on schedule, potty trained himself at 2.75 years, speaks clearly, and in complete sentences. He doesn't know his alphabet, and he can only write "o" "l" and "t" for letters, but I have not pushed this at all. I asked his nanny (who has cared for him since he was newborn)if she had any concerns about his development, and she thought he was appropriate, although she does have some of the same "naughty" issues I do, she deals with it by keeping him as busy as possible.

He is fascinated with lights/electricity/flashlights, etc. The first "naughty" thing he did was try to pry the safety cover off the electrical outlet with a fork at 15 months. After taking away the fork, telling him "no" about fifty times, trying distraction, etc, he was still at those covers. When he could see I was getting upset, he toddled over, gave me a big sloppy wet kiss, and went right back to it. Now he sometimes yells "Hey Mommy, I'm being NAUGHTY!!" Some of it seems to be a ploy for attention (of which he gets plenty) but he obviously knows what he is doing is wrong.

As far as an evaluation goes, his peds, after ruling him out for ADHD, didn't seem concerned. I don't know if anyone understands that I spend a large portion of my day afraid/trying to prevent him from seriously injuring himself. We do live in major metro area with- teaching hospital, but there just seem to be so many quacks, I need to figure out where to start to choose just the right doctor or therapist, or whatever he needs.

I will try "The Explosive Child" Thanks everyone for your time.


New Member
ps no mood or substance abuse disorders that I know of, (unless you count father in law unable to quite smoking? although he lives far away from us) but several nephews with ADHD


Well-Known Member
I would go to one of those university hospitals. It sounds like something is quirky, and I'm not really thinking of ADHD. I'd want him checked out by having a MDE. The earlier a child's problem area are attacked, the better the prognosis. In his case, there a few red flags in a few areas and I'd want a "working diagnosis" (that means as close to one as you can get at his age. It is apt to change as he ages, but at least he can start getting interventions.) It doesn't sound as if he is your typical child, at least not from my experience. I've got five kids over age nine (three grown) and my one quirky kid DOES have a diagnosis. and DID get early interventions and it DID help tremendously. My motto: Better to be safe than sorry.


Active Member
If you can't get the doctor to listen to you maybe you should try a different doctor. I had to go through several before I found one that would believe me when difficult child 1 had acid reflux.